The full title of this theme ought to be “Things that won’t happen in the end-times”.
I’m referring to those anticipated events, featuring in speculations about the end-times, which are based on misinterpretations of what the Bible
In this case, I’m looking at “the return of Christ as a fresh reincarnation”.
This expectation is not based on any specific text. In fact there is no text anywhere in the New Testament which could even be misunderstood as making
this promise. I once challenged a debater to find a single statement suggesting that Christ would return in this way, and he failed to come back to
But there is an expectation of the Return of Christ which is fundamental to the New Testament, and there is a generic, incoherent belief in
reincarnation which has become part of modern folk-religion. As a result, people with only a sketchy knowledge of Christian teaching are inclined to
understand the first in the light of the second.
So any critique of this idea needs to be based on a better understanding of the way the New Testament is really expecting Christ to return.
One good place to start is the promise made when the disciples saw him depart;
“This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts ch1 v11).
“This Jesus”- that is, not another Jesus.
“In the same way”- that is, moving directly between heaven and earth. A quiet reincarnation could hardly be called “in the same way”.
The most relevant text in the gospel is the description which Jesus gives of the arrival of the Son of Man (that is, himself).
He says the Son of Man will be “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew ch24 v30). In other words, in all the power of
the direct presence of God.
This event would be followed immediately, as confirmed by several other references in the New Testament, by the time of judgement.
Again, a quiet reincarnation as an ordinary weak human baby would not fit this description.
He says also that the coming of the Son of Man will be “as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west” (v27).
Two very important points are condensed into that simile.
One is that his arrival will be sudden
and without warning. “In the twinkling of an eye”. That is what is meant by the suggestion that he
will come “as a thief in the night” (ch24 v43, 1 Thessalonians ch5 v2, 2 Peter ch3 v10, Revelation ch15 v16).
Once again, a quiet reincarnation and steady growth as a human child would not fit that description.
The other is that his arrival will be instantly
recognised for what it is. As Revelation says, “he is coming with the clouds and every eye
will see him” (Revelation ch1 v7).
Yet again, a quiet rebirth as an unknown human child would not fit that description.
The popular idea that people “might not know” the true identity of a returned Christ walking around on the earth is quite incompatible with what
the New Testament is telling us.
In fact we might take the opposite as an assured rule; that if we are not certain whether someone is the returned Christ, then he isn’t. We will
Jesus warns us in the same chapter that “Many will come in my name, saying ‘I am the Christ’, and they will lead many astray” (v5).
“False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect” (Mark ch13 v22).
But we are given a clear rule of thumb, which is enough to detect all the fakes. If people tell you that he is “in the wilderness”, do not go
there. Or if they tell you he is “in the inner rooms”, do not believe that either. In short, if you are told “He is there!” about any place at
all, that is a reason not to believe them. If it is possible, in principle, to go somewhere to see him, then he’s an imposter (Matthew ch24
When the true Christ returns, we will be in his presence without having to make journeys.
If the gospel teaching can provide such an effective test against the “false Christ”, that may be telling us the hidden, spiritual reason for the
current popularity of belief in reincarnation.
It’s clearly impossible for anyone to imitate, convincingly, the Return of Christ as it is described in the New Testament.
Claiming to be a reincarnated Christ would be much easier.
However, nobody was going to believe in a reincarnated Christ before being convinced that it was possible
for someone to return in that
But that is precisely the effect, and perhaps also the purpose, of the current fashion of talking about the possibilities of reincarnation.
In a recent television “black comedy” about the arrival of a destructive comet, it was taken for granted that the Vatican would look for a
returned Christ among recently-born children. I don’t think they would- even the Vatican know their Bibles better than that.
The assumption is symptomatic, though, because it identifies the popular expectation. And that expectation would make life simpler for an aspiring
antichrist, because he just has to arrive on the scene and say “Here I am. I’m the reincarnation you’ve been waiting for.”
So a general belief in reincarnation would be an essential and indispensable precondition for the emergence of a successful antichrist.
On that basis, I would identify it as a symptom of what John describes, the work of the “false prophets” preparing the way for antichrist (1 John
It is the product of what the translations misleadingly call “the spirit of antichrist”.
The New Testament is teaching us to expect Christ in a different way.
edit on 14-2-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)